On Wednesday, May 4, more than 100 people identified as Jews were stranded at Frankfurt Airport, Germany, during their layover from a flight from New York to Budapest. The airline on both flights, Germany’s Lufthansa, decided to prevent only Jews from boarding the second flight, while allowing all other passengers to leave. This decision sparked massive criticism of the company, which the Jewish communities accused of anti-Semitism and racism.
The story was only talked about in the past few days, after May 8 videos and testimonies of what happened were collected by a site that usually deals with the sale of discount airline tickets, DansDeals, who first told the case. After the article was published, the news reached many major world newspapers, and the pressure on Lufthansa to clarify what happened became very urgent.
Most of the passengers on the plane that departed from New York were Orthodox Jews who were on their way to a pilgrimage to Hungary to visit the tomb of the important rabbi Isaiah Steiner: the exact number is unknown, but according to several witnesses they were among the 130. and 170.
People who left on the ground said Lufthansa’s decision to bar Jewish passengers was due to the fact that some of them refused to wear masks on the flight from New York, in violation of airline rules.
Instead of punishing individuals, Lufthansa indiscriminately punishes all Jews on board, many of whom wore the traditional clothing and hair of Orthodox Jews (such as payot The burrows are left to grow very long on the sides of the head), and thus are easily recognizable by their belief.
In the end, the official apology only arrived on May 10, so about a week later: in a statement the company said it was “sincerely sorry” for what happened in Frankfurt and that “what emerged does not conform to Lufthansa’s policies or values. We do not tolerate racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination from what kind “. However, the apologies were not enough for several Jewish associations and foundations (including Yad Vashem, the Israel Holocaust Remembrance Foundation), which asked the company to conduct a more in-depth investigation.
At the moment, in fact, it is not known who took the decision to ban Jewish passengers at the airport, and Lufthansa did not provide any information about this. According to some testimonies, it is known that during the flight from New York, a pilot issued an announcement from the cabin calling on passengers to order, reprimanding some who did not wear a mask or who were blocking the aisles by starting the prayer.
It is unclear how many Jews refused to use the masks, but according to numerous witnesses, there were at most three.
Upon arrival of the flight in Frankfurt, passengers found dozens of policemen at the gate of the flight to Budapest (something very unusual).
What happened next was witnessed by several people who were at the gate, who filmed the very excited moments leading up to the announcement of Lufthansa’s decision with their smartphones. The flight departure was scheduled for 7:10 am, but boarding began only at 7:20, and in a somewhat odd way. In fact, the company’s ground operators invited passengers to board the plane by name, rather than waiting for them to go to the counter themselves. The only people called were passengers with surnames not of Jewish origin. After a few minutes, it became clear that Lufthansa had left only Jews on the ground.
The confirmation came shortly after: in the next video, at 3.37 minutes, we see a Lufthansa manager announce via the microphone that for “operational reasons” the flight has been canceled for all passengers remaining at the gate (and thus those who did not board the plane). “You know why,” he added.
In another video, we see a passenger, Yitzy Halpern, ask a Lufthansa representative about the reason for the ban: she replies that it was because of problems some Jews had made on the flight from New York. Halpern says, “Did some Jews create a problem, so today is it forbidden to travel to all Jews?” ; “Only on this flight,” replied the Lufthansa manager.
Wonderful Tweet embed : “The Jewish people are the ones who created the chaos, the Jewish people are the ones who created the problem.”
Jewish customer: “The Jews who were on the plane caused a problem so all the Jewish people are banned today?”
Rep: “Only from this trip.”
– Emily Schrader – אמילי שריידר (@emilykschrader) May 9, 2022
After the flight left for Budapest with only a few passengers allowed, those who remained on the ground tried to buy a new ticket, hoping to be able to arrive in time for the party. Some of them did, although they did not receive any refunds for the canceled flight. However, others were refused permission to fly on Lufthansa planes for 24 hours. Then some of them traveled on a flight to Vienna operated by another company, and from there they went to Hungary by other means.
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